25 October 2001

S1M-2279 Ocean Recovery

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 25 October 2001

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

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Ocean Recovery

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): The final item of business today is a members' business debate on motion S1M-2279, in the name of Tavish Scott, on the Edinburgh declaration for ocean recovery.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes the Edinburgh Declaration for Ocean Recovery to be put to WWF's Oceans Recovery Campaign conference on 23 October 2001; agrees that our seas are in urgent need of sensible and sensitive management if they are to support abundant fish stocks, viable populations of marine wildlife and thriving coastal communities, and calls on the Scottish Executive to work with Her Majesty's Government, devolved bodies and all stakeholders to develop a co-ordinated stewardship strategy for our seas.


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Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I congratulate Tavish Scott on initiating the debate.

Newton's third law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If only the complex ecology of the oceans were so simple and we could see that one action had an identifiable side effect. Of course, the matter is not simple.

I share Tavish Scott's view that conservation of our coastal communities is an important objective, but paramount and underpinning a future for our planet is conservation of the oceans. For many years, we have heard our forests referred to as the earth's lungs. I suggest that our oceans have been used by the human race as the earth's kidneys and by industry as the earth's bowels, much to the oceans' disbenefit.

Bruce Crawford referred to Sellafield and the MOX plant. By coincidence, I brought a group of seven Norwegian teachers to the Parliament today. They sat in the VIP gallery during question time this afternoon. The first question that they asked me was on my reaction to the new Norwegian Government's intention, stated in today's press, to sue the UK Government over contamination of the North sea from Sellafield. I suspect that we in the Scottish public are playing catch-up with our Norwegian friends over our concerns for the ocean.

Occasionally, a bit of serendipity comes into play. During the recess, I had a pleasant visit to my local distillery—yes, it was very pleasant, Winnie. I discovered some interesting information. Whisky is the basis of an important rural industry—that I knew. Malt mash is a by-product of the brewing process that leads to the distillation of whisky—that I also knew. However, I did not know that malt mash is increasingly being converted into fish food. About 20 per cent of farmed salmon eats the waste product of Scotland's other excellent product, whisky. That is displacing the primary source of feeding for salmon in farms—fish-meal that is prepared from industrial fishing in the North sea, mainly for pout and sand eel. They are the food stocks on which cod depend.

Mr McGrigor rose—

Stewart Stevenson: I am running out of time; I would love to give way.

The whisky industry is helping to save the cod. I say to Jamie McGrigor that I have been told that 5 tonnes of industrial fish yield only 1 tonne of salmon, so it is good that whisky by-products are being used. In the whole food chain, the malt that we grow for whisky helps to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Whisky and cod are helping each other.


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